Why can’t I lose weight?

We’re told so often that weight loss is the magic formula of eating less and exercising more.  But what if you’re doing that and its not working?  According to Functional Medicine Doctor Mark Hyman, there’s several reasons, mostly unrelated to eating less and exercising more, that could be impacting your results:

Nutritional imbalances

Ok, this one is related to diet and sort of in the eat less category but more specifically it’s about the concept of being overfed and undernourished at the same time.  Over time we’ve seen a global shift in our diets to focus on high calorie but nutrient low foods leading to people consuming more calories than they need and becoming overweight or obese while at the same time showing symptoms of deficiencies in nutrients like Vitamin A, C, D, and E and magnesium and omega 3s.  And with this comes poorly functioning metabolism, inflammation and cravings as your body cries out for the missing nutrients.

Addressing the deficiencies and making better food choices can help to reset the metabolism, reduce the drive to eat more and ultimately lead to fat and weight reduction.

Gut Microbiome Imbalances

Our microbiome, the 1000s of species of bugs that live in our gut, is responsible for many body functions like creating vitamins, brain function, immune system and regulating metabolism and weight.

A poor diet high in processed foods, medications like antibiotics, acid blockers and anti-inflammatories and some lifestyle factors can negatively influence the makeup of our microbiome and the gut lining leading to inflammation, leaky gut, and insulin resistance, ultimately leading to weight gain.

Certain bacteria also determine how much energy is extracted from what we eat – some bacteria extract more energy from foods, others extract less – resulting in either weight gain or weight loss.

The composition of our microbiome can be influenced by our diet so if you’re suffering from gut symptoms or imbalances and struggling to lose weight, a gut healing protocol and cleaning up the diet can help.

Inflammation and immune function

Fat cells make inflammatory molecules contributing to weight gain and disease causing a self-perpetuating cycle, and some environmental factors can also contribute to inflammation and weight gain independent of calorie intake like:

  • Underlying infections
  • Mold and environmental toxins and heavy metals
  • Food allergens
  • Poor quality diet

Reduce inflammation by avoiding processed foods and address underlying infections and toxins to help control fat and weight gain.

Environmental toxins

We’re exposed to so many toxins in our environment – plastics, pesticides, phthalates, bisphenol A, flame retardants, mercury, lead, arsenic and the many 1000s of chemicals introduced since the industrial revolution. Many of these interfere with metabolism, hormones, and brain function, causing weight gain in even in the absence of extra calories.

As the body is increasingly overloaded, it gets difficult to eliminate these toxins from the body through the liver and kidneys.  With sluggish clearance, the toxins need to go somewhere so the body wraps fat or cholesterol around toxins within the body to protect itself from its effects, resulting in weight gain – you’re not fat, you’re toxic.

To address this, we need to firstly reduce our exposure, becoming aware of what we’re eating, putting on or into our bodies and what we’re using in the house and around us. Then we need to heal the gut to ensure we can eliminate waste effectively and support our liver and kidneys to so.

Mitochondrial function

The mitochondria in our cells convert oxygen and food into energy – if they are good at this, they are burning calories effectively you might be considered to have a fast metabolism and conversely if they are not so good, a slow metabolism.

Mitochondria are highly sensitive and easily damaged by processed sugar, refined fats, environmental toxins, and inflammation. With mitochondrial damage and decline, we get accelerate aging.

Optimise your mitochondria and improve your metabolism to control body weight by reducing processed foods, doing high intensity interval training or strength training, reducing toxins and repairing your gut health.

Hormone problems

Dysregulation of insulin, thyroid, stress and sex hormones and the interplay between them all influence weight gain along with many chronic diseases.

Insulin resistance – when insulin can’t get glucose out of the blood and into the cells leading to high blood sugar – is interconnected with weight gain and one exacerbates the other. When you can regulate insulin, you’ll shift from fat storage to fat burning.

Underactive thyroid slows down metabolism and causes weight gain. Thyroid health is affected by diet and environmental factors and is connected to gut and liver health.

High stress increases cortisol production which increases appetite and belly fat and shuts down digestion and metabolism.  Long term chronic stress is behind lots of over issues too like high blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Managing your stress can go a long way towards managing your weight.

Excess estrogen can cause weight gain for both men and women – high estrogen can occur from poor diet, environmental and lifestyle factors, high stress causing an imbalance with progesterone, and gut and liver issues affecting how estrogen is cleared.

If you suspect any hormone imbalances are impacting your ability to control your weight, it’s worth taking a closer look.

So, if you’ve been doing your best to limit what you eat and push yourself through your workouts but it’s just not working, consider if any of these things are playing a part and get in touch to see if a functional health approach can help.